Top Wine Picks for 2017

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MR: Syrah by K Vintners “Motor City Kitty” 2013 – Yakima Valley, Washington

Washington wine is really hot right now. So many winemakers are producing wines with power, grace, and immense complexity. This wine is 100% Syrah from the Yakima Valley, located next to the highly acclaimed “Boushey Vineyard.” The nose is rich like the French Northern Rhône style Syrahs with red plum, blackberry jam, as well as fresh herbs, and bacon fat. It is paired with pork tenderloin, cassoulet, beef short ribs, or any braised meat.

SJ: Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – Rutherford, California

This particular vintage is truly a blend of the best vineyard land in Napa. The wine is ultimately composed in a way that delivers beautifully extracted color and a nose of ripe, juicy blackberry and fig jam. The long finish on the pallet is of subtle hints of dark chocolate and well-roasted coffee, making this wine and our nicely charred 10 oz. angus filet a truly dynamic duo.

JR: Sella & Mosca Tanca Farra Alghero D.O.C. 2010 – Sardinia, Italy

Tanca Farra is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Cannanou. The nose showcases the terroir with notes of cherries, sage, and licorice. The palate is medium-bodied with dark fruit, scorched earth, and sweet herbs. The finish is long and refined. Pair this wine with roasted rack of lamb with fresh mint.

JG: Ludovicus Garnacha 2013  Terra Alta, Spain

This 100% Garnacha is organically grown and from a high elevation region with older vines. It suits both new and old world palates with  notes of luscious dark fruit. It is medium to full body and has balanced exuberance. I would pair this with lighter meat courses or smaller tapas.

AM: Vincent Girardin Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2005 – Côte de Nuits, France

Despite the Pinot Noir fruit being tangibly seductive, it is the perfume which lifts these wines to another level, to become a more cerebral experience. The fragrance coupled with energy and terroir definition defines burgundy and the 2005 vintage, and gives it the potential of greatness. This wine shows flavors of blackberry, licorice, leather, flowers, minerals, and oak. The combination of richness and freshness makes it really special.

BL: Fantini Farnese Sangiovese 2013 – Abruzzo, Italy

This offering is a lovely, fruit-driven red from the Adriatic Seaside of Europe’s largest and most famous boot. Need a couple of cups of red wine for a recipe? This is the perfect wine for the job. Enjoy a glass while you cook and don’t worry – you won’t need to waste time opening any more wine to serve with dinner, as there’s plenty of wine left to handle a table full of thirsty guests.

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MR: Nikolaihof “Hefeabzug” Grüner Veltliner Wachau 2013 – Wachau, Austria

This particular bottling of “Hefeabzug,” meaning aged on the lees, has had extended lees contact (dead yeast cells), which gives the wine a creamier texture. Grüner is known for its high acidity and phenomenal food pairing abilities, but this wine can be easily mistaken for white burgundy. Traditional Austrian food, like wiener schnitzel, pairs great with Grüner Veltliner as well as halibut, soft cheeses, artichokes, and asparagus.

AM: Les Cimels Blanc 2015 – Rhone, France

The white is made from predominately Grenache Blanc, 15% Rolle, and 15% Roussanne. This wine has a bright yellow color with golden tints and aromas of citrus and white flowers. It’s a medium-bodied wine with good fruit intensity balanced with a soft saltiness on the finish. It pairs well with Caesar salad, fresh goat cheese, grilled fish, and can even be enjoyed with certain exotic dishes.

JG: 2014 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Blanc – Paso Robles, California

This is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne. The Grenache Blanc provides acid and a crisp, zesty character, the Viognier offers amazing aromatics, and Marsanne and Roussanne provide a creamy body and balanced weight. It’s perfectly paired with lighter fare like salad or seafood.

JR: Pierre-Marie Chermette Domaine du Vissoux – Beaujolais Blanc Cepage Chardonnay 2014 – Beaujolais, France

This is 100% Chardonnay from three terroirs that contribute to the wines unique characteristics and complexity. Aromas of acacia, honeysuckle, white peach, and soft citrus are followed by a rich and round mouthfeel and flavor of stone fruit and fresh-picked grapefruit. This wine sees no oak and can hold up to many dishes from seafood to veal scallopini.

BL: Charbonnier Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2015 – Loire Valley, France

This beautifully dry, crisp Loire Valley staple comes in a 5-liter box! I cook with it, enjoy its refreshing taste as I labor over a hot grill, and thoroughly enjoy drinking it with salads, grilled vegetables, and grilled shrimp or fish.

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BL: Domaine des Deux Puits Côtes du Roussillon Rosé 2015 – Roussillon, France

With 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah this wine is full bodied and bone dry with plenty of dark, tangy fruit. Pair it with goat cheese, grilled fish, or salmon burgers – it’s even great with hamburgers! It’s a baby red wine you can chill. Please treat it appropriately.

JR: Chateau de Manissy La Belle Étoile Rosé 2015 – Rhone, France

I think the missionary priest from Chateau Manissy’s Brotherhood was spot on when he named the wine La Belle Étoile which means “beautiful star.” The grapes are hand-harvested from a certified organic vineyard. The nose reminds me of afternoon rain pelting warm mountain stone intertwined with fresh watermelon and Rainier cherries with a whisper of sea spray. Fresh, lively, and balanced on the palate, it’s perfect for an afternoon on a boat with friends.

MR: Txomin Etxaniz Txakoli Rosé, Getariako Txakolina 2015 – Basque Country, Spain

This is a slightly sparkling, dry rosé. This style of wine is commonly enjoyed as a light aperitif and is typically consumed within one year of bottling. The nose is filled with fresh strawberries, cherries, and white flowers like honeysuckle. The palate has intense minerality with a slight zesty characteristic. It’s best paired with seafood such as octopus, squid, and light salads.

AM: Bardolino Chiaretto Classico Le Morette 2015 – Peschiera del Garda, Italy

This beautiful dry rosé is made with Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara grapes. It’s bright in character with fresh scents of strawberry, violet, and yellow peaches. Bardolino Chiaretto is a crisp, clean wine that pairs well with Italian hors d’oeuvres, shellfish/seafood, and salads.

JG: AIX Rosé Coteaux d’Aix en Provence 150cl Magnum 2015 – Provence, France

Many people think rosé is sweet and cloying, but this bone-dry version from the Coteaux d’Aix en Provence region of France reminds us that affordable rosé can be dry, floral, mineral, and exciting. It smells of mandarin, strawberries, fig, and thyme, and is crisp and refreshing on the palate. I would drink this on its own, or pair with a veggie dinner or roasted chicken.

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SJ: Domaine Carneros Estate Brut Cuvée Sparkling 2011 – Napa, California

The use of the traditional méthode champenoise makes this sparkling wine charmingly complex. The floral, apple, and pear notes are well balanced with the toasted brioche tones so typical of its not-so-distant French cousins. The Carneros fruit (58% Chardonnay and 42% Pinot Noir), grown over a long, cooler-than-usual season, is the star of this sparkling show.

AM: J. Lassalle Preference Premier Cru Brut – Champagne, France

This style of wine pairs well with every mood and virtually every food.
J. Lassalle Cuvée Préférence is produced by three very hardworking women, from 50-year-old vines, and with approximately 60% Pinot Meunier, 20% Chardonnay, and 20% Pinot Noir, all from premiere cru vineyards.

BL: Marie-Hanze Brut – Champagne, France

From the Montagne de Reims region of Champagne, this is made from 60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Meunier, and 10% Pinot Noir. Drink this dry, rich, brioche-scented champagne when you wake up, before you go to bed, and while you are breathing. Never drink champagne when you are asleep, as you will miss all the fun!

MR: Champagne by Dosnon & Lepage Recolte Blanche  – Champagne, France

Dosnon is a small grower/producer in the southern part of the Champagne region called the Côte des Bars, or Aube. The nose showcases ripe fruits of green and yellow apple, as well as notes of almond and brioche toast. The mouthfeel is rich with a mineral finish. I would pair this wine with funky cheeses, oysters, crab, and fried chicken.

JR: Rarecat Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2009 – Rutherford, California

The Chardonnay is sourced from a single estate vineyard near Sezanne, France and offers exuberant aromas of blooming citrus trees, creamy lemon curd, and delicate croissants. The palate is rich and complex with crisp pear notes and lovely acidity. Pair this wine with warm popovers and fresh lump crab salad.

JG: Theo Minges Extra Brut Sparkling Riesling – Pfalz, Germany

So many know Riesling as a sweet wine, but this is a perfect example of a dry, extremely well-crafted champagne-style Riesling. It is crisp, clean, pure, racy, and well developed. I would pair this with snacks, small plates, oysters, or seafood.

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Tim Hinck, bar manager, DeBarge Winery & Vineyard

DeBarge 2015 Albariño

If you often peruse restaurant wine lists or enjoy exploring the aisles of your local wine shop, you’ve probably noticed this curious white wine popping up more frequently. The Albariño you will find invariably comes from Spain or Portugal. Local winemaker, Raymond DeBarge, loves trying new things at his vineyard, and recently he became the first vigneron to plant the Albariño grape in the Southeastern United States. Vibrantly colored with a zesty green hue, DeBarge’s Albariño exhibits flavors of lemon, green apple, white flowers, and freshly cut hay. This is a brilliant “food wine,” which will pair with almost any seafood or white meat, although it seems to particularly favor fish tacos.

DeBarge 2014 Zinfandel

Besides growing about a dozen grape varietals, DeBarge vineyards and winery also imports several types of grapes from Virginia, upstate New York, Washington, and California. DeBarge has just released its newest red wine, an intensely perfumed Zinfandel made from grapes purchased from Lodi, an area of California famous for its old Zinfandel vines. From these grapes, DeBarge has made a powerful wine layered with notes of blackberry jam, ripe black cherries, dried fig, potpourri, and chocolate-covered raisins. At over 16% alcohol by volume, this wine has the weight and intensity to pair with almost any rich, meaty dish such as grilled steak or braised pork. However, the jammy flavors that dominate this wine would make it a perfect match for pork tenderloin drizzled with a dark
berry reduction.

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Carlo Bordogna, CEO and master winemaker, Look Out Winery

The Italian Trio

This is a complex wine containing a Cabernet, Zinfandel, and Merlot blend. The flavors of black currants, cherry, and strawberry hints will dance all over your taste buds. This wine is big enough to have with a steak but also smooth enough to drink alone. It pairs well with Tuscany style pizza topped with prosciutto di Parma and lean artisan sausage.

The Salvatoré

This wine is a unique mix of Red Zinfandel and a non-sweet Moscato. It is the closest thing to a standard Italian Rosé of the Northeast. It is served very cold with the Red Zinfandel providing three different rich, smooth berry flavors, that collide with the lemon lime notes in the Moscato. This wine is very pleasing and easy to drink on a hot summer day or when eating a red pasta dish or even a light pork dish.

The Red Cap Chardonnay

A smooth and creamy Chardonnay, this wine contains unusual notes such as butterscotch, Crème brûlée, and subtle hints of Cognac. This is an exceptional choice when paired with shrimp scampi sausage pizza, or hickory smoked salmon filet.

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Layne Ford, marketing and event manager, Georgia Winery

1 Georgia Winery Blackberry

Blackberry won the prestigious award of Best Non-Georgia Grown Wine in 2015. One sip of this seductively intense wine makes it clear why Blackberry won this award. Made with 100% blackberry juice, the deep berry sweetness melts in your mouth and awakens your taste buds. This wine pairs perfectly with dark chocolate that balances out the rich flavors.

2 Georgia Winery Chardonnay

We tried our hand at dry wines starting at the end of 2015 and one of our new wines was a Chardonnay. This un-oaked velvety-smooth Chardonnay also has a wonderfully crisp finish. Different from your typical Chardonnay, Georgia Winery put our own touch on this wine. Tones of green apple and citrus make it a great addition to our lineup. The refreshing Chardonnay pairs great with the clean flavors of goat cheese.

3 Georgia Winery Muscadine Gold

Made with 100% organically grown grapes from our Chattanooga Valley Vineyards, the Muscadine Gold is full of crisp Muscadine flavor. Made using our founder Dr. Maurice Rawlings’ original family recipe, this wine is the Cadillac of Muscadine wines. It will remind you of eating Muscadines straight from the vine and is full of Southern heritage. Enjoy it with smoked pork or a tart key lime pie.

4 Georgia Winery Scarlett

Scarlett is such a unique wine that its flavors transform depending on the temperature at which you serve it. When chilled, it is a fruit-forward semi-sweet red wine. When sipped at room temperature, the wine is semi-dry with a sassy finish. 75% De Chaunac, the French-American hybrid grape, and 25% Cayuga grapes, this wine pairs well with Five Pepper Jelly on Crispbread.

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